Back in May I wrote a piece called "What are you teaching your kids?" I shared an experience where I learned that my many years of parenting has taught me to stop, observe and listen, without letting my own urges interfere with what my six year old daughter needed from me. Recently I came across a wonderful piece written by Deliberate Parenting where she shares her experience with the same type of interchange that happened between her and her young daughter. What I love so much about this is that she found what worked best for her daughter in the moment without fixing everything for her. Plus, she embodied exactly what I try to get through to people about parenting - Just because you read how someone else does something, it doesn't mean it's best for you. You MUST feel your way through parenting not just apply the methods you read about. That is the only way to be sure you are doing what's best for your kids. Your child's well-being is as important as your relationship with them.
Here is the piece in it's entirety! Enjoy! And please do visit her site and leave her a comment!
Why I Didn’t Step In When Kids Told My Daughter to Go Away
Posted by Marisa on September 22, 2013 in The Choices We Make
Children pick and choose play partners. Their willingness to meet and play with other kids is not necessarily hampered by whether they know these kids. Play groups form naturally whereever play occurs. From school yards to playgrounds, children’s play is critical for practicing how to get along with others, how to make friends, and really just how to keep on keepin’ on.
A Girl Rejected. This weekend while at a birthday party, my three year old daughter, eager to play with kids as usual, climbed up a small backyard slide with a deck and stood politely among three older children (between the ages of 5 and 9). I was sitting alone at a table nearby for the purpose of keeping an eye on her. Though I was about 15 feet away, I could tell by her solemn face and stiff body that they were not having a friendly interaction. As the older kids shooed her away, Greysen stood wide-eyed and unsure, but steady.
I had to decide right there, should I come closer or stay out of it? Having intervened with this group of children at a previous birthday party in July, I was familiar with their routine of “get away kid, you’re bothering me.” The other thing I kept in mind was that while they were older than my daughter, they were children too.
The last time they asked her to leave, my daughter stood alongside her cousin, and together they played through the group of older children, not taking much notice of their dismissive ways. By my moving in closer, the children quieted, and my daughter and her cousin naturally moved away.
This time was different. My daughter stood alone and was acutely aware of their feelings.
As the children continued to speak, my daughter turned to me. I nodded and said, you can tell them, “No, I’m playing here.” Perhaps there were savvier words that I could have suggested, but that’s what I went with. Fueled by my encouragement, she turned to them and said so confidently. The kids regrouped and talked some more. She stood waiting to get access to the slide, but now she was gripping the side of the structure. She looked at me while they spoke. Her face didn’t seem alarmed or hurt, but rather unsure. I stayed where I was, focused and available should she seem to need me. She looked back to the children and continued to wait. Within moments they spoke to her again and she responded to them again, this time with more determination -”NO.”
She wasn’t looking to me to be rescued, but rather for reassurance. So, despite the ache I was feeling for my daughter who was being told to leave, I stayed put waiting for her to indicate she needed more from me than she was getting.
The children spoke some more amongst themselves before one moved positions, climbing down. This spurred movement amongst all the children, and my daughter took this opportunity to slide down the slide.
She jaunted over to see me. I sat and waited, swallowing my urge to ask whether she was ok, and what did they say, etc.
As she twisted her leg to free her foot from her boot, she had three things to tell me:
1. Those kids were telling me to go away.
2. I’m going to play in the jumphouse now.
3. Can I have a red sugar candy?
I leaned down for a hug and held her for just the briefest moment, in which I felt a sting of the idea that there will be a time where I will not be there when she faces rejection. She may not have me, but she will have had this experience.
Had I walked over to intervene, I could have spared Greysen two more instances of confrontation. I could have even possibility facilitated some play. There was a remote chance that I could have even helped her gain entry into their play.
Had I intervened, I could have taken over all those children’s play. I could have taken Greysen’s opportunity to stand up for herself, to bolster her tenacity, to negotiate, and to really listen to when she needs help and when she doesn’t.
The idea to not ask my child the 50 questions I had read was inspired by this post by Robin Whitcore and a response of approval (when I shared this post) by Lisa Sunbury.
The need to process and analyze may not be their need, but ours. At that moment, I chose to trust my daughter and our relationship. I gave her permission to take the lead of her emotional development since it was a manageable instance, and to not ask her to placate me with details.
What purpose would those questions have served other than to reassure me? When she has questions, she asks them. When she is upset, she cries. If she needed to talk, she would have.
That was that for her. Thus, that was that for me.
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, my passion lies in empowering parents to make the best decisions they can for their children and their families as a whole. As a well-trained coach, I can be your facilitator and accountability partner for long-lasting, meaningful change that has a permanent, positive impact for your family. By focusing on the values that you hold most important in your life, I can help you create and maintain the type of parenting relationship you want to have with your children, now and into their adulthood.
I am a homeschooling mom of four children in Massachusetts. I am also the author of a book called The Herbal Beverage Book, which can be found on amazon. When not coaching, writing or spending time with the family, I enjoy Hayao Miyazaki films, new and classic Dr. Who episodes, anything related to American history and a great glass of mead.
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This blog is a collection of thoughts, articles and perspectives I have at any one time. While I am pretty consistent in my beliefs, life changes and evolves along with experiences. You may feel a connection with me through my writing yet I never want any of my readers to misunderstand that the connection you feel is with a perspective I have shared and not me as a person. I am continually humbled that I am able to connect with my readers, and I hope to continue to be able to for many years to come, but it doesn't make us connected in any way beyond this. If you connect with what I write and know me as an acquaintance, this in no way reflects that I have any knowledge of you, your situation in life or that I am writing with you in mind. It is merely that I have shared a human experience that most likely very many others have had has well. This also goes for anything I post on my Twitter account, Facebook Page and Facebook personal page. I wanted to make this disclaimer as clear as possible so you know that any misunderstanding you choose to have is not my responsibility.